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Tailgating is a fun way to celebrate your favourite team, concert, or event. Whether football, baseball, a music festival, or something else, tailgate parties are a great excuse for friends and family to come together and start the celebrations early.
Tailgate parties are a North American tradition that millions take part in every year…
But before you head out to the stadium parking lot with a cooler, you need to double-check what you’re bringing for a successful tailgate experience.
From coolers and speakers to grilling essentials, here’s what to pack for the ultimate tailgate that will make yours the winner for the season.
What Is Tailgating?
Tailgating — or a tailgate party — is a social get-together that usually takes place in the parking lot of a stadium, arena, or venue before an event starts. The pre-game party typically includes music, food, (alcoholic) beverages, and games to kick off what’s sure to be an unforgettable day.
Tailgating is also known as pre-gaming, a warm-up for the main event. It’s a beloved tradition in North America that has even become a national holiday celebrated by 80% of the US.
Tailgating gathers family, friends, and super-fans together at an event — and gets the pre-game party started.
How to Tailgate
A successful tailgate requires thoughtful preparation and the right equipment.
You don’t need to provide everything yourself, but you do want to double-check everyone knows what they need to bring to make the pre-game party complete.
From food and ice-cold beverages to games and decorations, having the right supplies ensures everyone has an enjoyable experience.
Tailgate essentials are the must-haves for a pre-game party to remember.
You won’t get the most out of your tailgate experience without the things on this list.
Review this checklist as you prepare for your next tailgate to ensure you don’t forget any essential items.
- Food and drinks—Favorites are hamburgers and hot dogs, beer, hard seltzer, or canned cocktails — and don’t forget the water!
- Tables and chairs—Bring enough for your crew so everyone has a place to sit, eat, and relax.
- Cooling equipment—Refrigerators or coolers work best here, but coolers lose their “cool” after a few hours, and portable fridges usually need a hookup to stay cold.
Take your tailgate game up a notch with the EcoFlow Glacier portable refrigerator. It’s the world’s first portable freezer/fridge combo with a built-in ice maker and rechargeable battery designed for true portability. You can upgrade even more by plugging in a 220W Bifacial Portable Solar Panel to charge the Glacier directly with solar power. No need for a nearby plug — Glacier is the perfect solution for keeping food and drinks cold on long tailgate days!
Grilling and Eating
Grilling and eating at a tailgate is one of the best parts of the pre-game celebration. Considering that over 90% of tailgaters prepare their food at the event, grilling is an essential part of pre-gaming.
Tailgate parties usually have enough delicious grub for everyone to enjoy, enabling you to avoid overpriced concessions inside the stadium or arena. Whether you’re grilling up some burgers or hot dogs or just snacking on chips and dip, there’s something special about cooking out with friends before a big event.
Here’s what to bring to ensure you can fill everyone’s bellies:
- Portable Grill—You won’t have access to a gas line for your tailgating grill, so get one that’s portable and easy to use anywhere.
- Propane or Charcoal—Bring the appropriate fuel for your grill of choice, and bring extra just in case you end up cooking more than you planned!
- Grilling Utensils—Don’t try to flip those burgers with your hands or a paper plate. Bring tongs, a spatula, skewers, and anything else you need in your grillmaster arsenal.
- Disposable Plates and Napkins—We recommend using disposable plates and napkin options unless you want to wash dishes and run laundry when you return from the game. Look for recyclable products to go green!
- Condiments—Bring the best toppings for your food of choice. For hamburgers, bring pre-cut tomato slices, onions, and lettuce leaves. Don’t forget the ketchup and mustard! Salt and pepper are always good to have on hand as well.
A tailgate’s not over until you clean up, so bring everything you need to eliminate any mess. You want to leave the area better than you found it.
Pro Tip: Clean up after the tailgate but before the main event. You won’t want to deal with it when you return to your car, so do your future self a favour and finish cleaning before the event starts.
- Trash Bags and Cans—Don’t forget much-needed trash bags and cans to keep your area clean. You can hang bags up on the corner of a canopy or place them into a plastic trash can, whatever method is easier.
- Aluminum Foil—Don’t throw out those extra burger patties or other food! You don’t want to attract pests to your tailgate site or let good food go to waste. Bring a roll of aluminum foil to wrap up anything and send it with your guests back to their cars—or save it for yourself for later! With your Glacier portable fridge, it will still be fresh when you get back to the car.
- Food Containers—If you brought dips, spreads, and sauces, bring a Tupperware container for the end of the tailgate. Condiments can’t be aluminum wrapped, so glass or plastic containers can preserve them until later.
- Paper Towels—Wipe your table, chairs, grill, and other items with paper towels.
- Cleaner—If you want to do more than wipe away grime and clean and disinfect your equipment, bring a gentle, non-toxic cleaner that’s safe for cooking equipment and food.
The entertainment at tailgate parties is on another level, with big screens for movies, dance parties, and even hot tubs. With the right family and friends, you might not need extra entertainment. But if you want to take your tailgate up a notch, here are some items you may want to bring:
- Speaker—A portable Bluetooth speaker is the perfect way to bring your favourite tunes to the tailgate. Just be sure to charge it before the tailgate so it will last! EcoFlow’s RIVER 2 Max portable power station is perfect for keeping all your devices charged for the duration of the tailgate — and you can even use the same 220W Bifacial Portable Solar Panel to generate electricity off-grid.
- Games—Tailgate games can be whatever you want them to be. A frisbee or a football is all you need for a quick toss back and forth. Or, get more people involved with something like cornhole if you have the space. When in doubt, a deck of cards is a great multi-purpose game to keep on hand.
- Canopy or Shade Device—When sitting out in a parking lot enjoying a freshly grilled hot dog, the last thing you want is hours of direct sun. A pop-up canopy provides shade and an area where party-goers can relax, even without natural shade. Other shade options include sails or umbrellas to attach to your truck’s bed.
While these items might not be essential, they’re especially great to have on hand if you have room. Or, make them a part of your tailgate essentials kit and keep them available in case you or someone else needs them.
- Wet Weather Gear—Even if the weather report shows clear and sunny skies, always pack a poncho or umbrella if things change for the worst. Keeping a pair of rain boots in the trunk is never a bad idea.
- Decor—Represent your home team with a flag or jazz up your spot with twinkle lights so your friends can find your tailgate when they arrive.
- Insect Repellent/Sunscreen—Whether you’re partying day or night, you’ll want protection from the elements — and from insects! Bring a bottle of sunscreen and another bottle of bug spray to protect yourself from the sun and mosquitoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
A tailgate is a pre-game party that gets everyone hyped for the main event. Tailgating usually takes place in the parking lot of an arena or stadium and lets fans and friends get the party started early in preparation for an exciting sports or music event.
Tailgate parties typically consist of grilling out, eating and drinking, listening to music, and talking with friends about the upcoming event. It’s a relaxed party atmosphere suitable for adults and kids alike.
Most tailgate parties last at least a few hours. Arrive at least two hours before the event for a shorter tailgate — stretch it out to a 4+ hour pre-party event to celebrate all day with family and friends in anticipation of the main event.
A tailgate party is the perfect way to get hyped up about an event with family and friends.
Having fun should always be your top priority when tailgating, so don’t stress about getting every little detail right. You can have a fantastic tailgate with a few essential items, such as food + drinks, a reliable cooler/refrigerator, and a grill!
For an innovative refrigeration solution that will keep your food and drinks cold for the whole day and night, check out EcoFlow’s Glacier Portable Refrigerator. It even lets you add ice to your drinks!
Enjoy your next tailgate party in a whole new way — and remember to drink responsibly!